It’s an hour until Christmas and while that may not be as exciting as it once was, it still means I’m getting some new comic in the morning.
When I was a kid and people would ask me what I wanted for Christmas, I could not tell a lie. I would tell them to give me comic books. All I wanted was more comics – any sort, Giles books, Sgt Rock, anything.
During my entire childhood, I received comics as a Christmas gift twice. I think my parents discouraged people from getting me any more. They were right to do so, I must have had nearly fifty. There wasn’t any need for any more.
But I still got some. If I was lucky, I would get one of those groovy comic packs – half a dozen random issues slapped into a bag and sold off cheap. I can still remember getting one that had one of the first Levitz/Giffen Legion comics and a Star Trek from early in DC’s go at the run. I read those comics until they fell apart.
I also got given the Judge Dredd roleplaying game sometime in my early teens. Even though I grew up around some avid D&D freaks, I’ve never, ever played a role playing game. But the sourcebooks for that game filled in some huge Dredd backstory at a time when I was ravenous for this sort of information. That’s was a good ‘un.
Now I’m all grown up and have a wife and everything, and I still tell people I want comics for Christmas. But I’ve got way more than 50 now, so I have to be a bit specific.
So every year for the last three years, I’ve made up the list. Ten comic books I really want, standalone books that I can always associate with the generosity of a gift.
I feel horribly materialistic about all this, but there are a bunch of comics I would really appreciate. And if I get three or four of the ten I list, I’m happier than Alan Moore’s ring merchant and still enjoy the element of surprise.
You still have to be careful what you ask for. You can’t go requesting something like a Johnny Ryan comic, because there is no way of explaining that shit away. That sort of thing needs to be bought by yourself. But something like Fables is perfectly fine, and I’ve been fortunate to get a few of books in that series as gifts in the past.
In fact, since I had the exceedingly good fortune of marrying a fine woman who appreciates my hard-on for comics and Doctor Who, (while never really sharing it), and she has bought me some cracker comics in the past few years. That Bone collection, the Paul Gravett-edited Mammoth Book of Crime Comics, the last Love and Rockets book I needed, and a three-foot tall Batman with a giant Fist of Justice.
She’s a keeper.
This year, I asked for a few stand-alone collections that have just come out – Brubaker/Phillip’s Incognito, Roger Langridge’s version of The Muppet Show, and the Wolverine comic from Millar and Niven that I can’t resist.
There’s some other stuff by Clowes and Bagge that would make my Christmas, and it would be good to finally get Black Hole and Hicksville. I’ve asked for it every year for the past three years, and I read these comics every 18 months like clockwork.
There are a few other superhero comics I wouldn’t mind getting – Iron Fist and some Punisher and a few more of those slightly off-centre titles like Hercules or provide a far more satisfying experience than the event-driven titles.
It is all a bit mercenary, but the sheer joy of getting nice, new and shiny comic book is always better than the forced grin caused by a shirt that’s uglier than Otto Sump. Christmas comics are better than anything, because it means somebody you care about knows exactly what you want and that’s the best feeling ever.
Merry Christmas, world!